US updates travel advisory to Jamaica over concerns about medical services

Concerns about inadequate medical services in Jamaica have prompted the United States to update its travel advisory to level 3, which warns citizens to reconsider travel.

This is in addition to the standard caution about crime.

In its advisory issued on Tuesday the US Department of State told American citizens to reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services.

It said US government personnel under chief of mission security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk.

As it relates to crime, the department noted that violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common, and also that sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.

It said local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

It said families of US citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities.

In relation to medical services, the department said emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from US standards.

It said public hospitals are under-resourced and cannot always provide high level or specialized care.

It said private hospitals require payment up front before admitting patients and may not have the ability to provide specialized care.

Additionally, ambulance services are not always readily available, especially in rural areas, and are not always staffed by trained personnel.

The department strongly encouraged Americans to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica, because the US does not pay medical bills.

It pointed out that US Medicare / Medicaid does not apply overseas, and that most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept US health insurance. 

It said American citizens with medical emergencies can face bills in the tens of thousands of dollars, with air ambulance service to the United States that can range from thirty to fifty thousand dollars.


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